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Healthy Watersheds Protection

Healthy Watersheds Projects in Region 2

Serving NJ, NY, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

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Region-wide Projects

Flow Recommendations for the Tributaries of the Great Lakes in New York and Pennsylvania (PDF) (182 pp, 7.7MB) Developed by The Nature Conservancy, this report defines and quantifies the ecological processes necessary to maintain intact aquatic ecosystems in streams ranging from headwaters to large rivers, while providing sufficient water for human needs. The results of this study support decision making for management of water withdrawals and water use at a regional scale for the Tributaries of the Great Lakes in New York and Pennsylvania. This study supports the states in their effort to meet their obligations under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Compact (the “Great Lakes Compact”) to create a management program for new or increased withdrawals and consumptive uses, in order to help prevent adverse impacts to the quantity or quality of the waters and water-dependent natural resources” of the Great Lakes Basin.

Common Waters Healthy Forests, Healthy Watersheds Initiative 4,500 square miles of Upper Delaware River watershed, mostly forested and privately-owned, serve as source water supplies for fifteen million people (including New York City). Initiated at the beginning of 2011, the initiative strives to combat the impacts from a rapidly growing population and draw a closer connection between forest and faucet.

USGS Report on Lake-Level Variability and Water Availability in the Great Lakes (PDF) (32 pp, 1.34 MB) This report provides recorded and estimated (prior to data collection) changes in water levels in the Great Lakes, relates those changes to impacts such as climate change and highlights major water availability implications for storage, coastal ecosystems and human activities.

Socioeconomic Value of the Delaware River Basin in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania (PDF) (103 pp, 81K) An analysis of economic activity from recreation, water quality, water supply, hunting/fishing, ecotourism, forest, agriculture, open space and other benefits provided by the Delaware River Basin.

Ecosystem Flow Recommendations for the Susquehanna River Basin (PDF) (101 pp, 2MB) Developed by The Nature Conservancy, this report presents a set of recommended flows to protect the species, natural communities and key ecological processes within the various stream and river types in the Susquehanna River basin. The flow recommendations address the range of flow conditions relevant to ecosystem protection, including extreme low and drought flows, seasonal (and monthly) flows and high flows. Along with magnitude of these key flows, recommendations address timing, frequency and duration of flow conditions.

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New Jersey Projects

Users’ Manual for New Jersey Hydroecological Integrity Assessment Process Software This software presents a customized application of the USGS Hydroecological Integrity Assessment Process for New Jersey streams. The New Jersey Stream Classification Tool uses long-term daily streamflow records to classify a stream into one of four classes based on the degree of skewness of daily flows and frequency of low flow events. The New Jersey Hydrologic Assessment Tool uses flow records to calculate 171 flow measures and identify reference flow conditions using trend analysis. The software also suggests environmental flow standards for 10 primary flow measures specific to a given stream class, and evaluates past or proposed hydrologic modifications against reference conditions.

An Ecological Integrity Assessment of the New Jersey Pinelands (PDF) (180 pp, 26MB) The Ecological Integrity Assessment of the New Jersey Pinelands evaluated landscape, aquatic and wetland integrity by examining the extent and arrangement of natural land cover in the landscape and in the drainage areas for aquatic ecosystems and wetland ecosystems. A moving-window analysis was implemented in a geographic information system to conduct the assessments and characterize ecological integrity in 10-meter units across the landscape. The results of the assessment are used in a land-use-management program that directs development away from areas considered ecologically critical to areas deemed less critical.

Garden State Greenways The New Jersey Conservation Foundation developed Garden State Greenways in 2001 with Rutgers University and the Green Acres Program. Garden State Greenways is a map identifying the important natural resources - grasslands, forests, dunes, agricultural soils, wetlands - remaining in New Jersey. Greenways include hubs, or concentrations of land, and linear corridors connecting these hubs. Linking hubs of nature protects the ecological integrity of these natural areas.

Method to Support Total Maximum Daily Load Development Using Hydrologic Alteration as a Surrogate to Address Aquatic-Life Impairment in New Jersey Streams (PDF) (98 pp, 6.9MB) The primary objective of this USGS study was to develop a hydro-TMDL approach to address aquatic-life impairments associated with hydrologic alteration for New Jersey streams. The hydro-TMDL approach provided an opportunity to evaluate proportional differences in flow attributes between observed and baseline hydrographs and to develop complementary flow-ecology response relations at a subset of Raritan River Basin sites where available flow and ecological information overlapped.

Numerous flow deviations were identified that were indicative of streams that are highly regulated by reservoirs or dams, streams that are affected by increasing amounts of surface runoff resulting from impervious surface cover, and streams that are affected by water abstraction (that is, groundwater or surface-water withdrawals used for agricultural and human supply).

New Jersey Antidegradation Designations New Jersey surface water quality standards establish antidegradation policies for all surface waters of the state. Certain waters receive Category One antidegradation designations. Category One waters are protected from the impacts of development through regulations that require maintenance of a 300-foot vegetated buffer around the stream channel. Category One designations are in part based on a stream’s ecological significance and the use of vegetated buffers as a protection strategy that helps maintain key riparian and instream processes that contribute to ecological health.

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New York Projects

New York State Natural Heritage Program The Department of Environmental Conservation Natural Heritage Program’s mission is to “facilitate conservation of New York's biodiversity by providing comprehensive information and scientific expertise on rare species and natural ecosystems to resource managers and other conservation partners.” They form partnerships with various agencies to survey the state’s biodiversity and exchange information among decision-makers.

Evaluating and Conserving Green Infrastructure Across the Landscape: A Practitioner’s Guide This guide provides an historical overview of green infrastructure planning, as well as practical steps for implementing a green infrastructure plan. The guide includes a New York case study that builds off of existing data sets and methods within New York to create a model process and methodology for creating a local green infrastructure map for Ulster County. The map prioritizes green infrastructure assets at the landscape scale for Ulster County to use in targeting conservation and restoration efforts. It provides a real-world implementation example for replication by other localities in New York.

Maintaining Healthy Watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed The 2014 Chesapeake Watershed Agreement contains a new Healthy Watersheds Goal: sustain state-identified healthy waters and watersheds recognized for their high quality and/or high ecological value with an outcome of 100 percent of state-identified currently healthy waters and watersheds remaining healthy. The Chesapeake Bay Program Maintain Healthy Watersheds Goal Implementation Team implements strategies to achieve this goal. The Team is developing methods to track watershed health and protection status. Tracking measures are reported on the Chesapeake Stat website.

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